31 Best Anime Movies of All Time

Chihiro and Haku: Spirited Away

Anime has been one of the most popular movie categories all over the globe lately. A great number of anime come to the big screens and distributed via video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu internationally.

Some classic anime franchises have been loved by both kids and adults worldwide, and the famous Studio Ghibli movies have been highly rated globally.

Unlike the long TV anime series which consist of hundreds of episodes, it takes a couple of hours to watch an anime movie with a single episode. You can easily enjoy the satisfactory story in a second.

There are countless titles of attractive anime movies released ever, and you may wonder what to watch next. Here, I’d like to introduce 31 best anime movies of all time including the brand new films and the sequels of popular series.

Many popular anime movies are offered with dubs and subtitles of English and other languages today. Enjoy the anime movie bucket list right away!

<<Check out the Latest List of 18 Best Anime Movies Released in 2022, too!>>

31. The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises (風立ちぬ) is a 2013’s Studio Ghibli movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki, which is based on the original manga written by him in 2009-2010. The setting is Tokyo and other rural areas in Japan around the 1920s and the life of a fighter aircraft designer is featured in the story.

Recommendation: ★★★☆☆
Story: ★★★★☆
Characters: ★★★☆☆
Release: 2013

30. The Garden of Words

The Garden of Words (言の葉の庭) is a 46-min anime movie directed by Makoto Shinkai in 2013. The romance and slice-of-life story centers on a Tokyo’s high schooler Takao Akizuki, who aspired to be a shoemaker. He meets an adult woman in a Japanese garden on a rainy day.

Recommendation: ★★★☆☆
Story: ★★★★☆
Characters: ★★★☆☆
Release: 2013

29. Penguin Highway

Penguin Highway (ペンギン・ハイウェイ) is a fantasy anime film directed by Hiroyasu Ishida in 2018, adapted from the 2010’s novel written by Tomihiko Morimi. A young boy called Aoyama along about 10 years old finds penguins suddenly appear in his town. He investigates the mysterious occasion with his female acquaintance.

Recommendation: ★★★☆☆
Story: ★★★☆☆
Characters: ★★★☆☆
Release: 2018

28. Her Blue Sky

Her Blue Sky (空の青さを知る人よ), released in 2019, is a modern fantasy romance anime movie directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai. It is produced by the team Super Peace Busters which also created Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day and The Anthem of the Heart.

Her Blue Sky is set in Chichibu, a countryside in Saitama Prefecture, centering on a high schooler Aoi Aioi and her 31-old-year sister Akane Aioi. Aoi meets Akane’s ex-boyfriend called Shinno, who looks a high schooler but is supposed to be the same age as Akane.

Recommendation: ★★★☆☆
Story: ★★★★☆
Characters: ★★☆☆☆
Release: 2019

27. Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale

Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale (劇場版 ソードアート・オンライン -オーディナル・スケール-) is a recent anime movie of the popular light novel and anime franchise, released as a brand new story written by Reki Kawahara in 2017.

Following the previous virtual reality devices  NerveGear and AmuSphere, Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale focuses on the augmented reality device Augma. Kirito, Akuna and other main characters are exposed to the incident related to the ARMMORPG called Ordinal Scale.

Recommendation: ★★★☆☆
Story: ★★☆☆☆
Characters: ★★★★☆
Release: 2017

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26. Digimon Adventure Children’s War Game!

In 2000, the early anime movie of the classic fantasy anime series was released: Digimon Adventure Children’s War Game! (デジモンアドベンチャー ぼくらのウォーゲーム!), directed by Mamoru Hosoda. Digimon Adventure Series has been derived from the hit virtual pet growing devices Digital Monster sold in 1997 since 1999.

The sequel of the first season of the anime series depicts the main characters like Taichi and Koshiro fighting against new Digimon that generate a negative impact on the Internet world.

Recommendation: ★★★☆☆
Story: ★★★☆☆
Characters: ★★★☆☆
Release: 2000

25. Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back

Pokémon, one of the most famous and popular family video game and anime series all over the world, offered its first anime movie Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back (劇場版ポケットモンスター ミュウツーの逆襲) with Pikachu’s Summer Vacation (ピカチュウのなつやすみ) as the other part of the double feature in 1998. Its remake Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution (ミュウツーの逆襲 EVOLUTION) came to the big screen in 2019.

The anime film follows Ash with Pikachu battling against the strongest artificial Pokémon Mewtwo.

Recommendation: ★★★☆☆
Story: ★★★☆☆
Characters: ★★★★★
Release: 1998

24. Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie

The anticipated title Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie (劇場版 呪術廻戦 0) was just presented to the public on December 24, 2021. The date is coincident with when the major tragedy incident called The Night Parade of a Hundred Demons happens in the story. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is a prequel of the hottest dark-fantasy manga series Jujutsu Kaisen and its anime adaptation starting in 2020.

Set in the past of the main series story, it concentrates on Yuta Okkotsu, who enrolls the Tokyo Metropolitan Curse Technical School one year before another protagonist Yuji Itadori joins it. He is depicted as a mysterious character in the original story but the movie unveils his background and his strongest Curse Spirit. In addition to him, the past of other main character like Satoru Gojo is also focused on.

Recommendation: ★★★★☆
Story: ★★★☆☆
Characters: ★★★★☆
Release: 2021

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23. In this Corner of the World

A historical drama anime movie In this Corner of the World (この世界の片隅に), created by a Japanese animestudio Mappa, has been highly appraised by anime fans all over the globe since it was released in 2016. Its 40-min extended version was released as In This Corner (and Other Corners) of the World (この世界の(さらにいくつもの)片隅に) in 2019.

The story is set in Hiroshima during WWII following a young woman Suzu, who survives under the situation of supply shortage and air raids.

Recommendation: ★★★☆☆
Story: ★★★★☆
Characters: ★★☆☆☆
Release: 2016

22. A Silent Voice

A Silent Voice (聲の形) is a modern Kyoto Animation drama anime movie directed by Naoko Yamada in 2016, based on an original manga written by Yoshitoki Oima.

A Silent Voice revolves around a high school boy Shoya, who gets diverted from killing himself and recalls his own days at the elementary school. A deaf girl named Shoko transfers to his school, and their complicated relationship is presented throughout the story.

Recommendation: ★★★☆☆
Story: ★★★★☆
Characters: ★★★☆☆
Release: 2016

21. Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki’s Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便), the fantasy Studio Ghibli movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki, has been loved by kids and adults all over the globe since it was released in 1989. It is based on the same titled novel written by Eiko Kadono in 1985.

Kiki’s Delivery Service centers on a 13-year old girl Kiki, who lives in a countryside but leaves on a trip to become independent as a full-fledged witch. She travels urban cities with her partner pet cat Jiji, who faces and overcomes personal problems.

Recommendation: ★★★☆☆
Story: ★★★★☆
Characters: ★★★★☆
Release: 1989

20. The Castle of Cagliostro

The Castle of Cagliostro (ルパン三世 カリオストロの城), the second film of the Lupin the Third series, is famous as the first anime movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The classic action adventure movie was released in 1979 following the previous TV anime series Lupin the Third Part I that was also directed by him.

The Castle of Cagliostro is set in the fictional European Grand Duchy of Cagliostro, where counterfeit bills are passed. Arsène Lupin III and his partner Daisuke Jigen head there and meet Clarisse, who is the princess of Cagliostro. There are also other main characters including Goemon Ishikawa XIII and Fujiko Mine.

Recommendation: ★★★★☆
Story: ★★★☆☆
Characters: ★★★★☆
Release: 1979

19. Ghost in the Shell

As the first anime title of the classic cyberpunk anime franchise, Ghost in the Shell (GHOST IN THE SHELL / 攻殻機動隊) was released in 1995. Based on the same-titled manga series by Masamune Shirow from 1989, it was directed by the famous deirector Mamoru Oshii and followed by his directed sequel Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (イノセンス) in 2004. There are also other derived anime series and films such as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone and Ghost in the Shell: Arise.

Ghost in the Shell is set in a futuristic world in 2029, where cybernetic technology is highly developed. It centers on a female cyborg named Major Motoko Kusanagi, who solves heinous cybercrimes with other Public Security Section 9 members.

Recommendation: ★★★★☆
Story: ★★★★☆
Characters: ★★★★☆
Release: 1995

18. Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle (ハウルの動く城) is a popular 2004 Studio Ghibli movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki, adapted from the English novel of the same name written by Diana Wynne Jones in 1986. It is also known as the anime movie with the 5th highest box office revenue in Japanese movies of all time.

A young girl named Sophie is transformed into a ninety-year-old woman by the curse of the Witch of the Waste. She finds the Howl’s moving castle driven by the magic of the young wizard named Howl and travels with his fellows to seek a way to break the curse.

Recommendation: ★★★★☆
Story: ★★★☆☆
Characters: ★★★★☆
Release: 2004

17. Violet Evergarden The Movie

Violet Evergarden The Movie (劇場版 ヴァイオレット・エヴァーガーデン) was released in 2020 following the 2018 anime series and the 2019 anime movie Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll (ヴァイオレット・エヴァーガーデン 外伝 -永遠と自動手記人形-). The drama film was directed by Taichi Ishidate, who is the same director as the previous TV anime series in 2018.

Violet Evergarden The Movie depicts the story of a young girl Violet Evergarden, who works as an Auto Memory Doll writing letters on behalf of others. It also focuses on Gilbert Bougainvillea, who is her superior in the Leidenschaftlich Army and leaves the last words “I love you” to her.

Recommendation: ★★★★☆
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★☆☆
Release: 2020

16. Summer Wars

A fantasy and slice-of-life anime movie Summer Wars (サマーウォーズ) is a famous work by Mamoru Hosoda in 2009. It was created by the same team as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, the previous masterpiece of him in 2006.

Summer Wars is set in a Japanese countryside and an online virtual world named OZ. A high schooler Kenji and his Senpai girl named Natsuki who is a year ahead of him visit her family home. One day, OZ loses its control due to the attack by the artificial intelligence Love Machine.

Recommendation: ★★★★☆
Story: ★★★★☆
Characters: ★★☆☆☆
Release: 2009

15. 5 Centimeters per Second

5 Centimeters per Second (秒速5センチメートル) is one of the masterpieces of Makoto Shinkai in the early years, released in 2007. It consists of three short romance stories: Cherry Blossom, Cosmonaut and 5 Centimeters per Second.

Each part is related to each other centering on a main character Takaki Tono and two heroines Akari Shinohara and Kanae Sumida. The first episode Cherry Blossom is set in Tokyo around the 1990s, where Takaki and Akari go to the same elementary school. The two fall in love with each other but they have to move to different towns.

Recommendation: ★★★★☆
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★☆☆☆
Release: 2007

14. Nausicaä: Valley of the Wind

Nausicaä: Valley of the Wind (風の谷のナウシカ) is known as the greatest anime movie created by Topcraft, the predecessor of Studio Ghibli, directed by Hayao Miyazaki in 1984. The fantasy anime film is based on a part of his renowned manga with the same title written between 1982 and 1994.

The setting of Nausicaä: Valley of the Wind is an apocalyptic world, where a major-scale war called the Seven Days of Fire breaks out a thousand years before. It results in destruction of civilization and the birth of the Toxic Jungle. A main character Nausicaä, who is the princess of the Valley of the Wind, establishes a good relationship with both people and mutant insects in the jungle.

Recommendation: ★★★★☆
Story: ★★★★☆
Characters: ★★★★☆
Release: 1984

13. Weathering with You

Weathering with You (天気の子), directed by Makoto Shinkai in 2019, is one of the most watched anime movie in the 2010s in over 140 countries and regions. It is also known as the Japanese entry for Academy Award for Best International Feature Film in the same year.

Weathering with You is set in Tokyo revolving around two main characters. A high school boy Hodaka Morishima runs away from home in a remote island to the center of Tokyo and meets a young girl Hina Amano there. He finds out that she has a supernatural ability to change the weather temporarily. The children face lots of troubles but overcome the difficulties together.

Recommendation: ★★★★☆
Story: ★★★★☆
Characters: ★★★☆☆
Release: 2019

12. Rebuild of Evangelion

The Hideaki Anno’s classic anime Evangelion is one of the greatest anime series in the 1990s, and Rebuild of Evangelion (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版) is its recreation consisting of 4 anime movies: Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone. (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版: 序) in 2007, Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance. (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版: 破) in 2009, Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo. (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版: Q) in 2012 and Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time. (シン・エヴァンゲリオン劇場版: ).

The anime movies focus on the teenagers including Shinji Ikari and Rei Ayanami, who fight against gigantic aliens called Angels piloting humanoid robots Evangelion. A brand new story after 14 years is represented in the second half of the movie series.

Recommendation: ★★★★☆
Story: ★★★★☆
Characters: ★★★★☆
Release: 2007-2021

11. My Neighbor Totoro

As one of the best family anime movie, My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ) should be ranked higher on a global basis. The Hayao Miyazaki’s fantasy anime film, released in 1988, came to the same screen with another title of the double feature Grave of the Fireflies that was directed by Isao Takahata.

My Neighbor Totoro is set in a Japanese countryside, where a 12-year-old girl Satsuki and her 4-year-old sister Mei move from a city with their father while their mother is hospitalized nearby. The girls meet a mysterious creature called Totoro and an incident happens around them.

Recommendation: ★★★★☆
Story: ★★★★☆
Characters: ★★★★★
Release: 1988

10. Akira

Akira, the masterpiece of Katsuhiro Otomo, has been one of the most famous anime movies globally since it was released in 1988. The cyberpunk anime is based on a part of his original manga consisting of 6 volumes published between 1982 and 1990.

The setting of Akira is a futuristic city called Neo-Tokyo in 2019, where World War III broke out 31 years ago. It focuses on a conflict between the army and the anti-government guerrilla. A 16 years old leader of a motorcycle gang named Shotaro Kaneda and his best friend Tetsuo Shima are getting mixed up with it and a hidden project related to Akira.

Recommendation: ★★★★☆
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★☆
Release: 1988

9. Kizumonogatari

Kizumonogatari (傷物語) is the first anime movie adaptation of the popular anime franchise Monogatari Series, which are based on the original novel by Nisio Isin. There are three parts in Kizumonogatari: Tekketsu (2016), Nekketsu (2016) and Reiketsu (2017), directed by Akiyuki Shinbo.

Kizumonogatari is the prequel of the first season of Monogatari Series recounting the story of a protagonist Koyomi Araragi’s transformation from a human being into a vampire. The high school boy meets heroines Tsubasa Hanekawa and Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade, who is the strongest vampire and the most significant source of the whole story.

Recommendation: ★★★★☆
Story: ★★★★☆
Characters: ★★★★★
Release: 2016-2017

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8. Princess Mononoke

Among not only Japanese but also foreign people, the Hayao Miyazaki’s directed Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫) has been one of the most well-known Studio Ghibli movies since it was released in 1997. It is also famous for earning over 20 billion yen at the domestic box office, which is the 4th highest grossing Japanese movie of all time.

Princess Mononoke is set in a historical world in Japan around the Muromachi period (1336-1573) following Ashitaka, a young leader of the Emishi tribe. He protects his village against the attack by a devil but his arm is cursed in exchange, which results in his banishment from there. He embarks on a trip to break the curse and meets a heroine Sun, also known as Princess Mononoke.

Recommendation: ★★★★☆
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★☆
Release: 1997

7. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train

The newest smash hit Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train (劇場版 鬼滅の刃 無限列車編) was released in October, 2020. Its domestic box office reached over 35 billion yen, which means the highest-grossing movie in Japanese history. It is a sequel of the popular anime series Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba aired in 2019.

A protagonist Tanjiro Kamado gets aboard a train with his little sister Nezuko and his friends Zenitsu Agatsuma and Inosuke Hashibira for a new mission from the Demon Slayer Corps. They fight against the two of the 12 strongest demons with Kyojuro Rengoku, who is the Flame Hashira (a member of the most powerful demon slayers group).

Recommendation: ★★★★☆
Story: ★★★★☆
Characters: ★★★★★
Release: 2020

6. The Castle in the Sky

The Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ), one of the most popular Studio Ghibli movies of all time, was released in 1986 as the first title from Studio Ghibli. Many Hayao Miyazaki fans pick out the classic anime movie as the best of Studio Ghibli works.

There are two main characters in Castle in the Sky: a young boy Pazu and a young girl Sheeta. Pazu meets Sheeta when she runs away from air pirates and a government agency which watches for an opportunity to deprive her mysterious crystal pendant.

Recommendation: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★☆
Release: 1986

5. Wolf Children

Wolf Children (おおかみこどもの雨と雪) is a popular modern fantasy anime movie released in 2012. It was directed by Mamoru Hosoda in Studio Chizu as his second full-length original film following Summer Wars in 2009.

In Wolf Children, the life of the main character Hana is narrated by her daughter Yuki. Hana meets a young man at the university in Tokyo and they fall in love with each other, who can transform himself into a wolf. They have two kids Yuki and her young brother Ame, who can also transform themselves into wolves. Facing the tough situations caused by the exceptional backgrounds, they move to a hidden and intimacy countryside.

Recommendation: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★☆
Release: 2012

4. Porco Rosso

Porco Rosso (紅の豚) is one of the finest Studio Ghibli anime movie written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki in 1992. The classic action and drama film includes Hayao Miyazaki’s fetish for aircrafts in wartime.

Porco Rosso is set in Italy and the Adriatic Sea in the 1930s, when the country is ruled by the National Fascist Party. The story follows Porco Rosso, who used to be an ace pilot in World War I and is a pig-looking bounty hunter fighting against air pirates to earn a living.

Recommendation: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★☆
Characters: ★★★★★
Release: 1992

3. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

What has made the acclaimed anime director Mamoru Hosoda lately is The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (時をかける少女), his masterpiece released in 2006. The fantasy and slice-of-life anime movie is inspired by the 1967 novel written by Yasutaka Tsutsui, telling the story 20 years after the original setting.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time presents daily life of three main characters: a high school girl Makoto Konno and her classmates Chiaki Mamiya and Kosuke Tsuda. One day, she realizes she gets to a special ability for Time Leap, a kind of time travel to go back in time. The several attempts of the time leap lead to saving some people and involving sacrifices on the other hand.

In addition to the ordinary Japanese high school days, the heartwarming romance and the exciting mystery are depicted in the best anime movie directed by Mamoru Hosoda.

Recommendation: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★☆
Release: 2006

2. Your Name

The new anime director leader Makoto Shinkai released Your Name (君の名は。) in 2016, and the outstanding his anime movie has made him much more famous worldwide. It made over 25 billion yen domestically at the box office, which is the third highest-grossing movie in the Japanese movie history.

The story of Your Name proceeds with two main characters. A high school boy Taki Tachibana lives in the center of Tokyo and a high school girl Mitsuha Miyamizu is a little bored living in a countryside that is inspired by Hida Takayama in Central Japan.

One day, they become aware that they switch bodies with each other in an intermittent manner and experience the other life. And, a significant incident influences the destiny of them. The grand fantasy anime movie depicts daily life of Japanese high schoolers, Japanese cultures and traditions and breathtaking scenery of nature and cities, which only Makoto Shinkai can direct.

Recommendation: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★☆
Release: 2016

1. Spirited Away

Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し) is ranked at the top of this best anime movie list of all time, released in 2001. At the 75th Academy Awards, the worldly renowned anime movie won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003, which has been looked on as the masterpiece of its director Hayao Miyazaki and the best anime film in Studio Ghibli.

Spirited Away had been the highest-grossing movie earning over 30 billion yen at the domestic box office until the record was broken by the 2020 anime movie Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train.

The fantasy anime movie follows a 10 years old girl named Chihiro, who strays into a weird desolate town with her parents. She finds her parents are transformed into pigs by the magic of the witch Yubaba. And then, she decides to work at the Yubaba’s bathhouse to help them and is given another name Sen in exchange for the real name.

In addition to the diligent girl, there are a diversity of unique characters including a gentle boy Haku, a spider-looking old man Kamaji, an enigmatic creature No-Face and so on. Both adults and children will continue watching the heartwarming story from here on out all over the globe.

Recommendation: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Release: 2001

Did you find some your favorites on the best anime movie list above? From anime freaks to beginners, everyone can enjoy watching those well-selected anime films. This bucket list will be updated constantly from now on.


▽Check out the list of best new anime series released in 2022, too!▽

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